Foundations in Modern 2D Animation | CG Master Academy

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Foundations in Modern 2D Animation

An 9-week course where students will digitally create modern short animations that are fun and engaging to watch

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Jump Start into Animation!

Put down your pegbars and pencils, because this class is about learning animation the modern way. Students will dive head first into a series of projects specially designed to get you animating fast. Starting with the foundation, we will get an introduction to Adobe Animate CC and learn about the principles of motion. Students will practice being an animation clean up artist, design their own animation friendly characters, and build a walk cycle. This class will introduce students to basic 2D rigs (IE: Symbols), and we’ll learn to combine these new tools with traditional animation techniques. We will go over the process for finishing animation, including inking, coloring and even lighting. In the final project, students will animate their own short loop. After completing this course, students can take the 2D Animation Essentials course.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individually Recorded
Duration:   9 weeks
Assignment:   Due each week. Expect to spend 8-10 hrs/wk viewing lectures, q&a, and time on assignments.
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Adobe Animate CC, Wacom Tablet (or equivalent), Adobe Premiere | Recommended reading: The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams
Skills level:   Beginner to Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Course pre-req: Analytical Figure Drawing, Fundamentals of Character Design

Foundations in Modern 2D Animation WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Get a Crash course in Flash, No wait! Please don’t crash flash, I forgot to save! | Create a Standard Animation Document | Go over basic drawing tools| Practice animating Text | Learn to animate a bouncing ball based on the principles of motion. | Discuss Timing charts | Learn how to export gif's
Hand drawn, I thought Animation was done a computer? | Continuing the basic principles of traditional animation | Learn how to rough out a drawing and create a more dynamic ball bounce with squash and stretch. | Animate a simple blob character | Add in-betweens to smooth out animation | Traditionally Animate a flapping flag
It’s like your first day on the Job! | We learn to animate by cleaning up rough animation | Learn advanced flash drawing techniques | Drawing on model | Coloring animation | Coloring line art | Brush coloring modes are explained | Work on a scene from Kitchen Magician, An animation by Jack Cusamano
Design your own Animation friendly character! | Draw a complete Animated Character turnaround. | 8 poses on the Photoshop Timeline. | Track facial features to retain likeness. | Hone our rotation abilities and keep designs very consistent. | IMPORTANCE OF SIMPLICITY
This is a BIG one! | We learn about walk cycles, and the Richard Williams way of constructing them. | Discuss the 4 poses needed to make a walk cycle | Complete a practice walk cycle | Then create an original walk cycle with your own character | Study the arcs, bounces and timing of a walk cycle | Discuss secondary animation on a walk cycle. | Demonstrate how to effectively loop a walk cycle.
Design your own character based on a voice over provided | Learn the 10 mouth shapes needed for basic speaking | build a simple face rig and animate a character talking! | Discuss Flash tricks and puppet style animation | Nested symbols and how they are used. | Learn about the FRAME PICKER | Classic Tweens and how to use them effectively with EASES | Demonstration on Layer Parenting and simple puppet rigs. | Alternative cleanup methods using the pen and pencil tool.
Movin' on up! |Animate a scene from a short film with a layered Background. | Discuss more concrete animation methods and how to draw "ON MODEL." | Using a character turn around sheet effectively. | Rough out character animation based on an animatic. | Smearing, anticipation, timing and arcs. | Pose to pose style animation. | Applied secondary animation.
It all comes together now. We’ll Learn about the entire animation pipeline | Complete and execute your own idea from storyboarding, to final animation | Learn to export animation for final compositing | Importance of PNG Sequences | This is a mini After Effects and Premiere Pro tutorial | Add lighting and shadows and other compositing tricks in After Effects to our animation. | Exporting lossless video formats | Sound and final touches | getting your animation ready for social media. | The importance of completing independent animation projects, such as submitting to "Loopdeloop." | Students will have two weeks to work on final assignment.
Students will continue to work on the final homework assignment.

Unleashing your creativity

Andrea Gerstmann is an artist and animator with a BFA in painting who has worked in the animation industry several years. She is known for her work Storyboarding on TV shows such as 'BoJack Horseman' (Netflix); 'Tuca and Bertie' (Netflix); 'Human Discoveries' (Facebook); and 'The Great North' (Fox) and her work Background Painting on TV shows including: 'Apple and Onion' (Cartoon Network); 'Pinky Malinky' (Nickelodeon); 'Pig Goat Banana Cricket' (Nickelodeon); and 'Summer Camp Island' (Cartoon Network). She is also the Creator and Director of the Nickelodeon animated short 'Dog and Squirrel' and has a YouTube Channel with instructional videos about art and animation. Andrea enjoys working on all parts of animation. In her personal work, she actively creates many animations where she comes up with the ideas, storyboards, creates the designs and animates it.

Student interviews


April 17th!

Spring TERM Registration

Feb 8, 2021 - Apr 26, 2021




April 17th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

environment design Benefits


What makes this learning experience unique?

Personal Feedback

Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.

1+ Year Access

Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.

Certificate of Completion

Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.

Flexible Learning

Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with our online courses.

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Walk This Way: learning the fundamentals of 2D animation

Interview with Seiji Lim

Seiji Lim shares how Foundations in Modern 2D Animation helped him look at his work through a professional lens and design with animation in mind.

Walk This Way: learning the fundamentals of 2D animation

Hi, I’m Seiji from London, UK. I’m currently a freelance artist and my goal is to work in the Animation/Film/Videogame industry. I’ve previously worked as a Character Artist at Disney Consumer Products and have a B.A. in Animation Production. 

I was familiar with the basics of 2D animation because I have a degree in Hand drawn/Traditional Animation. However, I had no experience in Digital Animation. I’d tried for years to get to grips with Flash (Adobe Animate) in order to digitally animate, and had found the software learning curve frustrating. I’d found Brent Noll via his YouTube channel (BaM Animation) and found his delivery style jam packed with actionable tips and process breakdowns without any fluff. I thought it’d be a great opportunity to learn from him directly and get some professional, personalized feedback. 



Learning the Fundamentals

The first two weeks was a great foundation for me to apply the traditional principles to a new digital program. Initially, I found the program somewhat counter intuitive, however Brent’s lectures broke things down in a clear, concise and practical manner. The assignments hit the ‘goldilocks’ sweet spot of being engaging enough to feel satisfying skill progression, but not so challenging as to become overwhelming. 



Clean-up was my weakest area so it was great to see an industry pros method of tackling it. Brent drew 'through’ forms and then erased back, something Adobe Animate is particularly suited for (because lines are vector based, specific areas can quickly and easily be selected and deleted). This was a great way to keep lines smooth and flowing vs being overly timid and sketchy. It was also reassuring to hear tracing from the model sheets is an acceptable practice in animation to keep characters on model. 



Character Design for Animation


I approached this character design by keeping in mind the 3D form. To this end, the design is largely symmetrical, the colour palette is simple, and there aren’t too many details on the forms. It was attempting to strike a balance between making it efficient to animate whilst not looking too plain. In completing the turnaround, revisions were made to make sure all the forms lined up correctly and in perspective, e.g. the hands and feet. Brent’s explanation of the Photoshop Timeline helped highlight any inconsistencies when the form was seen from multiple directions. 



I wanted the character’s walk cycle to be confident without being arrogant (moving with a purpose/sense of direction). I opted for the 3⁄4 walk cycle because it would give an opportunity to learn how to add a slight rotation. A prop(bindle) was added to give some secondary motion. Easing was important to reinforce the momentum/rhythm and weight of certain parts (eg. The arms swings decelerating at the front and back most poses). 



 Lip Syncing and Symbols


Lip syncing was one of the skills I wanted to learn most and because I believe it’s one of Flash’s (Adobe Animate) strongest tools. The hardest part was breaking down the dialogue into syllables and where each one is stressed and matching it to the corresponding mouth shape. A cool tip was that because light travels faster than sound, subconsciously it looks more ‘correct’ if the frames are slightly ahead of the sound produced. In terms of emotion, I wanted to add an element of storytelling to the line read by having a contrasting transition from one emotional state to another e.g. angry to sad. 



Animating a Scene 


I chose the longest sequence because I thought it was the most challenging, and I’d get the most out of it in terms of learning. I found the process of in-betweening less difficult than the process of going from rough to clean animation. I had to redo an entire pass because my rough didn’t match up with the correct model sheet proportions. I think the rough animation can be deceptive because it can hide a lot of errors, which are then exposed at the clean stage. 



Creating your own animation loop


The final project was a group walk cycle. I wanted to build upon the single character walk by adding a cast of characters with different personalities, but all linked by the walk cycle fundamentals taught in week 5. I enjoyed including some basic sound design and background effects to attempt to create a more immersive atmosphere/narrative. The overall task was simplified by keeping all the cycles on a profile view. Brent had already done a great job of explaining and demonstrating how symbols worked, so I made extensive use of them here to keep everything organized, much like Photoshop group folders. 




Final Thoughts

The final assignment was the most fun but also the most challenging because it put all the skills learned throughout the course together. The key was trying to create something exciting but also achievable within the deadline. 

In terms of tips, I’d advise having a hierarchy/priority list to animating parts of a character. e.g. torso/head-legs-arms-secondary action-details vs tackling everything simultaneously. Also, clean-up always took far longer than expected, so I’d allow the majority of time for that. I found if I kept the idea simple in the rough stage, and got onto the clean-up asap, this helped. 

I learned an incredible amount from Brent’s course. His way of explaining tools and techniques, and demonstrating how to solve problems really clicked with me. It has influenced my way of creating work  in terms of pipeline, file setup and layered approaches to building projects. 

One of the main skills reinforced during this course was seeing and creating everything through an industry/ TV animation lens, so it was not only more professional looking, but more efficient to create. Previously I’d spend too much time on planning and not enough on the execution phase. Finally having the learning segmented into targeted, digestible weekly chunks with industry level, personalized feedback vs scattershot learning took my learning further, faster than I ever would have been able to on my own. 

Thank you CGMA and Brent! 

Instagram: @seijiartwork 


Bringing It All Together

Interview with Sofie Gjengstoe

Sofie Gjengstoe gives us a great breakdown of the work she did on her first animations in Brent Noll's Foundations in Mondern 2D Animation course. 

Bringing It All Together


Hello, my name is Sofie. I’m a Norwegian artist. I have studied art for a number of years touching on game art, classical drawing and visual development. I always wanted to get into animation and the 2D Modern Animation course was my first animation course beside some small interdictions to the bouncing ball some years prior. I was very excited to take the course as I have practiced a lot of skills I felt like an animator should have, but not actually taken the time to animate anything. This course gave me the right guidance and push to actually animate every day. 


Smoothing Things Out

The most helpful tip this week was keeping arcs as clear as possible and all the cool ways to do smears. For me this was such a great week as it was the first time I got to animate a full character- acting and talking. It was really new to me, but with the animatic already there it was easier to focus on the characters acting without getting lost in bad timing and big decisions. I think I went a little bit overboard with the smears, but we were shown so many cool ways to do it that I had to try it all. I used them almost every time the character moved a little fast. Looking back I think it would have had a stronger impact if I chose only the fastest motions and made more subtle smears if I wanted it on a motion that wasn’t the fastest ones. 



I do feel like I kept the character on model most of the time. I made some mistakes in areas like arcs and overacting, but learned a lot that I kept on using for the rest of the weeks! Also learned that I could push the overshoot after big movements even more than I thought. It was a lot of fun going through the feedback seeing that the teacher could clearly see that the animation got better after the first few seconds. So the exercise was clearly helpful! 


Characters for Animation


This week we designed a character and did a turnaround. It was a great exercise to not only animate something a little more complex, but also learn about making characters that we can animate. For me who wants to make personal projects that was super helpful. I designed the character differently than I normally would, making sure to use rounded shaped (like circles, cylinders, and bean shapes) and limiting details. That was really important for letting me focus on the animation without running out of time. 



After finishing the first pass of the turnaround I had to make sure the individual parts of the animation moved in the right arcs and that features stayed on model. After the feedback I also went back to make the suggested fixes. I made sure the neck stayed in the same point making him look more like he rotates in place and not moving a round. I changed some volume mistakes with the neck, hair, hands and some tangents in the facial features.


Walk Cycles

For the walk cycle I used the character I designed in the previous week. I wanted the movement to feel fluid and a bit rubbery.  I made the character’s hands drag more than the traditional Richard Willams walk cycle and made the limbs rubbery. I did this to hopefully make him a bit more chill and cartoony. We used a mix between symbols and traditional frame by frame animation. That was a really interesting way to save some work and still get the look I wanted.


Cleaning Up the Animatic

Here we got an animatic and background from Brent and we were going to choose one of three shots and make the rough animation and do clean-up if we had time. I choose the last one of the three shots. I liked her acting and having to figure out the props in the style. I felt like it would be a little extra challenge. 

For the rough pass I wasn’t afraid to move fast, make very scribbly drawings or cut, rotate and paste parts of the body to then draw them properly in the clean-up. I also focused mainly on arcs and acting in the roughs and not the individual drawings to make the motion fluid and interesting. I really wanted something that felt done when I was finished with the week. So it was important for me to spend my time on the right places to finish four seconds of rough animation, clean-up and colour in a week besides full time work. With the tricks and practice from the other weeks that was no problem.   


For this one and other weeks it worked surprisingly well for me to stay fairly close to the model even when we had one week to finish a lot of animation with characters we never have drawn before. 


Final Project

For the final weeks we were supposed to make any animated loop we wanted. I had a project I had started, but it had not come very far. I had planned the scenes, made a number of the backgrounds and a little bit of the animation. For the final project I was allowed to not follow the requirement of making a looping animation and continued on this project. It’s a 25 seconds short with characters from the YouTube series Tales of Alethrion. 


Within the two weeks we got to work on this I didn’t finish the entire short, but I made over half of it within the time of the course and did more that I had set as a goal when we discussed our projects before starting the homework. 

For the project I already had the storyboard and I used that to make extremely rough animation to see if the shots were working, then made a new in-between and tie down pass before cleaning it, coloring and compositing in After Effects. In post-production I mainly worked on integrating lighting in the scenes, making the characters seem less separate from the background. 





This project was a great end to the course. It really showed that with the tools we learned from the course previous 7 weeks it was possible to make anything I wanted to as long as I put in the time and effort. I can (and will) of course improve a lot, but the course gave me most of the tools I need and now I just have to continue working. All the weeks really came together for the ultimate challenge! And Brent went above and beyond and commented more on the shot continuity and giving extra in-depth feedback on things that weren't directly in the course. It was great that he was so flexible with the content in the course and gave me a helping hand for what to work on next even when the course was ending. I’m hoping to take a storyboard course that he suggested when I get the opportunity to take another CGMA course. 


Final Thoughts

In general I think our teacher Brent was doing a great job giving relevant feedback to everyone depending on their personal struggles and really isolating it to a few problems per week. That made me really focus on the specific problems from the former week and show better results in the upcoming assignments. 

The course was really well balanced. We had a lot of freedom designing characters for our turnaround and character walk in weeks 4 and 5 then choosing any project we wanted for the final two weeks. I had the most fun during the two weeks where we worked from an existing animatic was great because I got to work in the small acting choices and work with characters that’s more cartoony and playful than what I normally do.

The course went really fast, but I feel like it left me with most of the information I needed to make better animation and now I have the tools to continue improving and experimenting. I feel like the thing I took away from the course that was how much work I actually can get done if I just work smart and take time to animate every day even when it’s just a really short time at the end of a busy day. It also opened my eyes to different ways of working and that it’s no point in waiting to start learning. 

I also got a solid enough showreel to get an internship in a studio on a 2D animated feature film with almost only work from the course. So for me it was a really important leaping point to get a foot into the industry and try working in a professional environment. And let me say, it’s amazing! 


You can see more of Sofie's work here:

Check out her Showreel: